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Echoes from the Far Side

James Sheehan: The European Age, 19 October 2017

The Pursuit of Power: Europe 1815-1914 
by Richard J. Evans.
Penguin, 848 pp., £12.99, June 2017, 978 0 14 198114 7
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... outbreak of war and the revisionist interpretation recently advanced by his Cambridge colleague Christopher Clark. (It is unfortunate that Evans decided to end a book so full of new and interesting material with Sir Edward Grey’s familiar lament on 3 August 1914 that Europe’s lamps were being extinguished – a darkness for which Grey himself was ...

Tory History

Alan Ryan, 23 January 1986

English Society 1688-1832 
by J.C.D. Clark.
Cambridge, 439 pp., £30, November 1985, 0 521 30922 0
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Virtue, Commerce and History 
by J.G.A. Pocock.
Cambridge, 321 pp., £25, November 1985, 0 521 25701 8
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... is a case in point. Herbert Butterfield slew it in 1931, and here come John Pocock and Jonathan Clark to slay it again. There is next to nothing in common between them, save their opposition to the Whig Interpretation and its offspring: but it is that opposition which provides both of them with the structure of their argument and the dramatic purpose of ...

Easy-Going Procrastinators

Ferdinand Mount: Margot Asquith’s War, 8 January 2015

Margot Asquith’s Great War Diary 1914-16: The View from Downing Street 
edited by Michael Brock and Eleanor Brock, selected by Eleanor Brock.
Oxford, 566 pp., £30, June 2014, 978 0 19 822977 3
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Margot at War: Love And Betrayal In Downing Street, 1912-16 
by Anne de Courcy.
Weidenfeld, 376 pp., £20, November 2014, 978 0 297 86983 2
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The Darkest Days: The Truth Behind Britain’s Rush To War, 1914 
by Douglas Newton.
Verso, 386 pp., £20, July 2014, 978 1 78168 350 7
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... blunders of the German elite’ can’t be made to shoulder all the blame. In The Sleepwalkers, Christopher Clark deploys on a grander scale and over a much longer timeframe essentially the same argument.* ‘The protagonists of 1914,’ he writes at the end, ‘were sleepwalkers, watchful but unseeing, haunted by dreams, yet blind to the reality of ...

How to Be Prime Minister

William Davies, 26 September 2019

... anyone seeking to divine the underlying logic of Johnson’s apparently chaotic administration (Christopher Clark writes about Cummings’s blog and his obsession with Bismarck on p.21). There is a guilty frisson in the idea of a lawless nihilist pulling all the strings, but to grasp the danger Cummings poses, one has to start by recognising how ...

Australia’s Nineties

Clive James, 15 July 1982

Christopher Brennan: A Critical Biography 
by Axel Clark.
Melbourne, 358 pp., £20, May 1980, 0 522 84182 1
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... No Australian poet before Christopher Brennan was fully conscious of the artistic problem posed by isolation from Europe, and no Australian poet since has been fully disabled by it. Brennan’s life and death dramatised the problem once and for all. It was and is a true problem, not just a difficulty. Brennan, whether he wanted to or not, lived the problem to the full, and thereby, on everybody else’s behalf, got it out into the open ...

The Other Half

Robert Melville, 4 July 1985

Kenneth ClarkA Biography 
by Meryle Secrest.
Weidenfeld, 310 pp., £12.95, September 1984, 9780297783985
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... I knew Kenneth Clark by sight some time before he spoke to me. It was in the late Fifties, I think, at the press view of an exhibition of 20th-century English painting, that words were exchanged. We must have got there very early, because no one else was in the gallery. I was standing in front of a big Pasmore and Clark was coming to look at it ...

The Thing

Michael Wood: Versions of Proust, 6 January 2005

In Search of Lost Time: Vol. I: The Way by Swann’s 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by Lydia Davis.
Penguin, 496 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 0 14 118031 5
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In Search of Lost Time: Vol.II: In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by James Grieve.
Penguin, 576 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 0 14 118032 3
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In Search of Lost Time: Vol. III: The Guermantes Way 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by Mark Treharne.
Penguin, 640 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 0 14 118033 1
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In Search of Lost Time: Vol. IV: Sodom and Gomorrah 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by John Sturrock.
Penguin, 576 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 9780141180342
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In Search of Lost Time: Vol. V: ‘The Prisoner’ and ‘The Fugitive’ 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by Carol Clark and Peter Collier.
Penguin, 720 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 0 14 118035 8
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In Search of Lost Time: Vol. VI: Finding Time Again 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by Ian Patterson.
Penguin, 400 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 0 14 118036 6
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The Proust Project 
edited by André Aciman.
Farrar, Straus, 224 pp., $25, November 2004, 0 374 23832 4
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... to ‘a’? Quoting the same sentence in his preface to the full set of new translations, Christopher Prendergast writes: ‘all paradises are lost paradises.’ This is impeccably aphoristic, and assumes that false paradises are just not paradises at all. Proust himself could be more accommodating, and at one point implies that almost anything may be ...

Pure Mediterranean

Malcolm Bull: Picasso and Nietzsche, 20 February 2014

Picasso and Truth: From Cubism to Guernica 
by T.J. Clark.
Princeton, 352 pp., £29.95, May 2013, 978 0 691 15741 2
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... Ezra Pound’s Cantos, ‘you will have to go a long way round/if you want to avoid them.’ T.J. Clark is an Alpinist of distinction: Courbet, Manet, Pollock, Poussin, no foothills, no detours (apart from Lowry). And now Picasso. There are the Alps. ‘They don’t make sense,’ Bunting claimed. But Pound made sense. Some people still understand him. The ...

Licence to kill

Paul Foot, 10 February 1994

Spider’s Web: Bush, Saddam, Thatcher and the Decade of Deceit 
by Alan Friedman.
Faber, 455 pp., £17.50, November 1993, 0 571 17002 1
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The Unlikely Spy 
by Paul Henderson.
Bloomsbury, 294 pp., £16.99, September 1993, 0 7475 1597 2
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... It was the patrician Alan Clark who most accurately summed up the approach of the British and American Governments to the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. Nothing, he reckoned, was better for business than a lot of foreigners killing one another. This has been true of all foreign wars throughout the ages, but for businessmen of the Clark mentality a hot war in the Eighties which demanded endless supplies of expensive weaponry and technology was almost too good to be true ...

A life, surely?

Jenny Diski: To Portobello on Angel Dust, 18 February 1999

The Ossie Clark Diaries 
edited by Henrietta Rous.
Bloomsbury, 402 pp., £20, October 1998, 0 7475 3901 4
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... Ossie Clark, for those who never hankered after his confections in the late Sixties and early Seventies, was a dress designer. His designs are in museums of fashion quite as legitimately as a gold necklace from ancient Egypt is displayed in the British Museum, or the uniform of the Light Brigade is illustrated in the Imperial War Museum ...

World Policeman

Colin Legum, 20 November 1986

With the Contras: A Reporter in the Wilds of Nicaragua 
by Christopher Dickey.
Faber, 327 pp., £12.50, September 1986, 9780571146048
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Jonas Savimbi: A Key to Africa 
by Fred Bridgland.
Mainstream, 513 pp., £14.95, October 1986, 0 906391 99 7
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... to share with the Executive political control over the Agency’s operations, and passing the Clark Amendment which forbade clandestine support for movements such as Unita, the Union for the Total National Independence of Angola. In less than a decade, but especially in the last four years, the pendulum has swung more sharply in the opposite direction ...

Zigzags

John Bossy, 4 April 1996

The New Oxford History of England. Vol. II: The Later Tudors 
by Penry Williams.
Oxford, 628 pp., £25, September 1995, 0 19 822820 1
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... a New Oxford History of England? The old one, got off the ground with great promptitude by G.N. Clark in the Thirties, held up by the war, and finished with A.J.P. Taylor’s extra volume on 1914-45, does not much ring in the mind, except for its first two volumes (Collingwood and Myres, and Stenton) and Taylor’s. I doubt if the new one will fare any ...

Diary

Stephen Smith: A 17-year-old murder victim, 5 February 1998

... rear of the New Central Hotel in Blackpool. The police identified the body as that of 17-year-old Christopher Hartley. A minute or two went by before you began to wonder how they’d managed it. Presumably from fingerprints: police sources indicated that Christopher had a criminal record, though they didn’t want to make ...

Why we go to war

Ferdinand Mount, 6 June 2019

... statesmen, like others, did not know what they were doing.’ Something similar is argued by Christopher Clark in The Sleepwalkers, a book whose title says it all. I don’t think this is just an academic spat, a Historikerstreit, with little application to modern political debate. On the contrary, I think it has had a damaging knock-on effect on ...

Under the Flight Path

August Kleinzahler: Christopher Middleton, 19 May 2016

... Christopher Middleton​ hated New York. Among the things he particularly disliked, I suspect, is New York’s position as a cultural bazaar, where reputations are bought, sold and traded, with the attendant buzz of speculation. He was incapable of schmoozing, and his career suffered accordingly. New York’s greatest draw, people action and brute energy, would have been lost on him ...

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